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In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Dwarves are a race inhabiting the world of Arda, a fictional prehistoric Earth which includes the continent Middle-earth.

They appear in his books The Hobbit (1937), The Lord of the Rings (1954–55), and the posthumously published The Silmarillion (1977), Unfinished Tales (1980), and The History of Middle-earth series (1983–96), the last three edited by his son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien.

Development

The Book of Lost Tales

In The Book of Lost Tales the very few Dwarves who appear are portrayed as evil beings, employers of Orc mercenaries and in conflict with the Elves—who are the imagined 'authors' of the myths, and are therefore biased against Dwarves.[1][2] Tolkien was inspired by the dwarves of Norse myths[3][4] and dwarves of traditional European fairy-tales (such as those of the Brothers Grimm), from whom his Dwarves take their characteristic affinity with mining, metalworking, crafting and avarice.[4]

The Hobbit

The representation of Dwarves as evil changed dramatically with The Hobbit. Here the Dwarves became occasionally comedic and bumbling, but largely seen as honourable, serious-minded, but still portraying some negative characteristics such as being gold-hungry, overly proud and occasionally officious. According to the 2007 book The History of the Hobbit, Tolkien was now influenced by his own selective reading of medieval texts regarding the Jewish people and their history.[5] The dwarves' characteristics of being dispossessed of their homeland (the Lonely Mountain, their ancestral home, is the goal the exiled Dwarves seek to reclaim), and living among other groups whilst retaining their own culture are all derived from the medieval image of Jews,[5][6] whilst their warlike nature stems from accounts in the Hebrew Bible.[5] Medieval views of Jews also saw them as having a propensity for making well-crafted and beautiful things,[5] a trait shared with Norse dwarves.[4] For The Hobbit almost all dwarf-names are taken from the Dvergatal or "Catalogue of the Dwarves", found in the Poetic Edda.[7][8] However, more than just supplying names, the "Catalogue of the Dwarves" appears to have inspired Tolkien to supply meaning and context to the list of names—that they travelled together, and this in turn became the quest told of in The Hobbit.[9] The Dwarves' written language is represented on maps and in illustrations by Anglo-Saxon Runes. The Dwarven calendar invented for The Hobbit reflects the Jewish calendar in beginning in late autumn.[5] The dwarves taking Bilbo out of his complacent existence has been seen as an eloquent metaphor for the "impoverishment of Western society without Jews."[6]

The Lord of the Rings

When writing The Lord of the Rings Tolkien continued many of the themes he had set up in The Hobbit. When giving Dwarves their own language (Khuzdûl) Tolkien decided to create an analogue of a Semitic language influenced by Hebrew phonology. Like medieval Jewish groups, the Dwarves use their own language only amongst themselves, and adopted the languages of those they live amongst for the most part, for example taking public names from the cultures they lived within, whilst keeping their "true-names" and true language a secret.[10] Along with a few words in Khuzdûl, Tolkien also developed runes of his own invention (the Cirth), said to have been invented by Elves and later adopted by the Dwarves. Tolkien further underlines the diaspora of the Dwarves with the lost stronghold of the Mines of Moria. In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien uses the main dwarf character Gimli to finally reconcile the conflict between Elves and Dwarves through showing great courtesy to Galadriel and forming a deep friendship with Legolas. The Gimli-Legolas relationship has been seen as Tolkien's reply toward "Gentile anti-Semitism and Jewish exclusiveness".[6]

Tolkien also elaborated on Jewish influence on his Dwarves in a letter: "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue..."[11]

The "Quenta Silmarillion"

After preparing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien returned again to the matter of the Silmarillion, in which he gave the Dwarves a creation myth. The most Dwarf-centric story from The Book of Lost Tales, "The Nauglafring", was not redrafted to fit with the later positive portrayal of the dwarves from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, nor other events in the Silmarillion,[12] leading Christopher Tolkien significantly to rewrite it with input from Guy Gavriel Kay in preparation for publication.

The Later Silmarillion and last writings

Sometime before 1969 Tolkien wrote the essay Of Dwarves and Men, in which detailed consideration was given to the Dwarves' use of language, that the names given in the stories were of Northern Mannish origin, and Khuzdûl being their own secret tongue and the naming of the Seven Houses of the Dwarves. The essay represents the last of Tolkien's writing regarding the Dwarves and was published in volume 12 of The History of Middle-earth in 1996.

In the last interview before his death, Tolkien, after discussing the nature of Elves, briefly says of his Dwarves: "The dwarves of course are quite obviously, wouldn't you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic, obviously, constructed to be Semitic."[13]

Spelling "Dwarves"

The original editor of The Hobbit "corrected" Tolkien's plural dwarves to dwarfs, as did the Puffin paperbound edition of The Lord of the Rings.[14] According to Tolkien, the "real 'historicalTemplate:'" plural of dwarf is dwarrows or dwerrows.[15] He referred to dwarves as "a piece of private bad grammar".[16] In Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings it is explained that if we still spoke of dwarves regularly, English might have retained a special plural for the word dwarf as with goosegeese. Despite Tolkien's fondness for it, the form dwarrow only appears in his writing as Dwarrowdelf, a name for Moria.

Tolkien used Dwarves, instead, which corresponds with Elf and Elves. In this matter, one has to consider the fact that the etymological development of the term dwarf differs from the similar-sounding word scarf (plural scarves). The English word is related to old Norse dvergr, which, in the other case, would have had the form dvorgr. But this word was never recorded, and the f/g-emendation (English/Norse) dates further back in language history.

Literature

Characteristics

In The Silmarillion, the Dwarves are described as shorter and stockier than Elves and Men, able to withstand both heat and cold. Though they are mortal, Dwarves have an average lifespan of 250 years.[17]

In The Lord of the Rings Tolkien writes that they breed slowly, for no more than a third of them are female, and not all marry; also, female Dwarves look and sound (and dress, if journeying—which is rare) so alike to Dwarf-males that other folk cannot distinguish them, and thus others wrongly believe Dwarves grow out of stone. Tolkien names only one female, Dís. In The War of the Jewels Tolkien says both males and females have beards.[18]

Tolkien's Dwarves, much like their mythical forebears, are great metalworkers, smiths and stoneworkers. Fierce in battle, their main weapons are axes (referenced in many subsequent fantasy works), but they also use bows, swords, shields and mattocks.[19] Unlike other fantasy dwarves, Tolkien does not explicitly have them use war hammers.

Since they lived underground, Dwarves did not grow their own food supplies if they could help it, and usually obtained food through trade with Elves and Men. In the essay "Of Dwarves and Men" in The Peoples of Middle-earth it is written that Dwarven and human communities often formed relationships where the Men were the prime suppliers of food, farmers and herdsmen, while the Dwarves supplied tools and weapons, road-building and construction work.

Unlike Elves and Men, created by the supreme God Ilúvatar, Dwarves were created by the Vala (angelic being) Aulë.

Throughout the First Age and most of the Second Age, the Dwarves maintain mostly friendly trading relationships with Men and Elves (the Dwarves of Nogrod's treachery towards Thingol of Doriath being an exception). However, in the Third Age, particularly after the closure of Moria, they grow mistrustful of Elves, though in later times cordial relations are established with the Elves of Mirkwood and the Men of Dale. They also maintain somewhat ambivalent relations with Hobbits for most of the Third Age, although after the mission to retake the Lonely Mountain Bilbo Baggins is held in great esteem there.

Language

Main article: Khuzdul
Cirth

The Cirth runes used to write Khuzdul.

From their creation, the Dwarves spoke Khuzdul, a constructed language made for them by Aulë. Because it was a constructed (though living) language, it was not descended from any form of Elvish, as most of the languages of Men were, although it is suggested that the language may have had influence on the early languages of Men.[20] Khuzdul was for the most part a closely guarded tongue (one of the few recorded outsiders to have a knowledge of it was Eöl), however, and the Dwarves never revealed their Khuzdul names to outsiders, going so far as to omit them from even their tombs. Khuzdul was written in Cirth, a runic alphabet developed by the Elves. There is no extant corpus for the Khuzdul language, whether in Tolkien's novels or in his private works, other than the battle cry: Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu! (meaning "Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!") and the inscription on Balin's tombstone, reading: BALIN FUNDINUL UZBAD KHAZAD-DÛMU, or Balin son of Fundin Lord of Moria. The remainder of the corpus of Khuzdul consists of single words.

Names

In the Grey-elvish or Sindarin the Dwarves were called Naugrim ("Stunted People"), Gonnhirrim ("Stone-lords"), and Dornhoth ("Thrawn Folk"), and also Hadhodrim. In Quenya they were the Casári. The Dwarves called themselves Khazâd in their own language, Khuzdul.

Tolkien took the names of twelve of the thirteen dwarves he used in The Hobbit (and Gandalf's name as well) from Völuspá.

Divisions

In The Silmarillion, it is stated that the Dwarves were originally divided into seven clans or "Houses". The three who enter Tolkien's histories are:

After the end of the First Age, the Dwarves spoken of are almost exclusively of Durin's line. Almost nothing is known of the histories of the other four Houses, except that they each sent a contingent west to fight in The War of the Dwarves and Orcs in the late Third Age, and their names:

  • Ironfists
  • Stiffbeards
  • Blacklocks
  • Stonefoots

Petty-dwarves

The Petty-dwarves were Dwarves of several houses, which had been exiled for reasons unknown in very ancient times. They were the first to cross the Ered Luin in the First Age, and established strongholds in Beleriand before the building of Nogrod and Belegost in the Blue Mountains, and before the Elves arrived. These very ancient settlements were at Nargothrond and Amon Rûdh.

The usual Sindarin name was Noegyth Nibin; other include Nibin-Nogrim and Noegoethig, formed of nibin ("petty") and one of the Elvish names for the true Dwarves. In Quenya they were called Pitya-naukor. The Petty-dwarves of West Beleriand dwindled to a single family, and then at last became extinct.

The Sindar, not acquainted with Dwarves yet, saw the Petty-dwarves as little more than bothersome animals, calling them (Levain) Tad-dail ("two-legged (animals)"), and hunted them.[21][22]Template:Request quotation Not until the Dwarves of the Ered Luin established contact with the Sindar did they realize what the Petty-dwarves were. Afterwards they were mostly left alone, but not before the Petty-dwarves came to hate all Elves with a passion.

Petty-dwarves differed from normal Dwarves in various ways: they were smaller, far more unsociable, and they freely gave away their names: other Dwarves kept their Khuzdûl names and language a secret. This may have been one of the reasons the Petty-dwarves were exiled.

By the time of the War of the Jewels, after the return of the Noldor, the Petty-dwarves had nearly died out. The last remnant of their people were Mîm and his two sons, Ibun and Khîm, who lived at Amon Rûdh. They gave shelter to Túrin Turambar and his band at their home of Amon Rûdh. Mîm was later captured by a band of Orcs and saved his own life by betraying Túrin, though his sons were killed. Mîm later became the possessor of a treasure-hoard abandoned by the dragon Glaurung, but was later killed by Húrin, Túrin's father.

History

The Dwarves are portrayed as a very ancient people who awoke, like the Elves, at the start of the First Age, before the existence of the Sun and Moon.

Creation

In Tolkien's works, the Dwarves (in the form of seven patriarchs) were created during the Years of the Trees (also known as the Ages of Darkness), when all of Middle-earth was controlled by the forces of Melkor. They were created by the Vala Aulë, in secret from the other Valar, intended to be his children to whom he could teach his crafts. Ilúvatar, however, knew of their creation, despite Aulë's efforts. When confronted by Ilúvatar, Aule confessed his deed and raised his hammer to destroy his creations. Upon seeing this, and understanding that Aulë had not acted in defiance or intent for domination, Ilúvatar decided that their creation was not an evil deed and sanctified them, though he did not allow them to "awake" before the Elves (whom he had designated as "The Firstborn"). Aulë sealed the seven Fathers of the Dwarves in stone chambers in far-flung regions of Middle-earth to await their awakening.

First Age

Some time after the Elves had awoken at Cuiviénen, the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves were released from their stone chambers. The eldest of them, called Durin, wandered until he founded the city of Khazad-dûm in the natural caves beneath three peaks: Caradhras, Celebdil, and Fanuidhol (known in Khuzdûl as Baranzinbar, Zirakzigil, and Bundushathûr, respectively). The city, populated by the Longbeards or Durin's folk, grew and prospered continuously through Durin's life (which was so long that he was called Durin the Deathless, also a reference to the belief by his people that he would be reincarnated seven times). It was the only one of the Dwarf mansions to survive the First Age.

Far to the west of Khazad-dûm, the great dwarven cities of Belegost and Nogrod were founded in Ered Luin (The Blue Mountains) during the First Age, before the arrival of the Elves in Beleriand. The Dwarves of Belegost were the first to forge chain mail, and they also traded weaponry with the Sindar and carved the Thousand Caves of Menegroth for the Elf king Thingol. In Nogrod, the smith Telchar forged Narsil and Angrist, two of the most fateful weapons in the history of Arda, as well as the famed Dragon-helm of Dor-Lómin.

The dwarves of Beleriand fought against the forces of Melkor during the first age, and the dwarves of Belegost were the only people able to withstand dragon-fire in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, when King Azaghâl, who died in the battle, stabbed Glaurung, the first dragon.

The dwarves of Nogrod fought against Melkor as well. However, they slew Thingol out of greed and stole the Silmaril they had been charged to set into the necklace called Nauglamír. A number of retaliatory actions ensued, and the Nogrod army was destroyed by a force of Laiquendi and Ents. Both dwarf kingdoms would eventually be destroyed, along with nearly all of Beleriand, after the War of Wrath, with the dwarven refugees mainly resettling in Khazad-dûm.

Second Age

Refugees from Belegost and Nogrod added to the population of Khazad-dûm, and its wealth was also enriched with the discovery of mithril, a magical and extremely valuable metal found only in its mines. During this time the Dwarves continued to trade with neighbouring Men and the Elves of Eregion. Seven of the Rings of Power forged by the Elven-Smiths were later given by Sauron, who had seized them, to the heads of the seven Dwarf clans (although the Longbeards maintained that Durin's Ring was given him by Celebrimbor). The Dwarves of Moria at first fought in the War of Sauron and the Elves, but in the year 1697 of the Second Age, the doors of Khazad-dûm were shut and its inhabitants no longer ventured forth into the world. Thereafter it was known by the elven name of Moria, meaning "dark chasm".

Third Age

During the Third Age the Dwarves of Moria continued to prosper until the year 1980, when, in pursuing a vein of mithril, they broke open a chamber containing the last balrog known in the histories of Middle-earth, called Durin's Bane. They battled against the demon for one year, and after the death of two kings, the Dwarves who had not been killed fled from the Misty Mountains. For almost two decades they had no kingdom, but in the year 1999, Thráin I founded a kingdom at the Lonely Mountain. This kingdom prospered for a time, and the great jewel known as the Arkenstone was discovered.

In 2210 Thorin I founded a kingdom in the Grey Mountains to the north of Mirkwood. Both of these realms would eventually be consumed by dragons—the Grey Mountains in 2590 by a horde and The Lonely Mountain in 2770 by the dragon Smaug. The refugees from the Grey Mountains who did not return to The Lonely Mountain colonized the Iron Hills, one of the only Dwarf kingdoms never to be abandoned or taken. The main body of the Dwarves became a wandering people, and Thrór, who had been king of the Lonely Mountain when it was captured, was slain by Orcs in the year 2790 and his body mutilated. This led to the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, in which nearly all of the Orc hordes of the Misty Mountains were exterminated but half of the Dwarf host were killed, a blow that took the Dwarves several hundred years to recover from.

For a time an exile kingdom was founded in the northern Blue Mountains, but Thráin II was driven to wandering the wilderness by his Ring, the last of the Dwarven Rings not yet taken by Sauron or consumed by dragons. He was soon captured by Sauron, then reigning as the Necromancer in Dol Guldur. Thráin was tortured, his Ring of Power taken, and finally died. In 2941 Thorin II Oakenshield, son of Thráin II and grandson of Thrór, recolonized the Lonely Mountain after Smaug the dragon was slain by Bard, the future King of Dale. After the ensuing Battle of the Five Armies, in which the Eagles, the Elves of Mirkwood, the Men of Dale, and the Dwarves of the Iron Hills (as well as Thorin's band) defeated an invading horde of Goblins and in which Thorin was killed, his cousin Dáin II Ironfoot, already King of the Iron Hills, became King Under the Mountain, and the Lonely Mountain was not abandoned again.

Dwarves did not figure prominently in the major battles of the War of the Ring although the Lonely Mountain was besieged for a time and Dáin killed in the Battle of Dale. One dwarf, however—Gimli—joined the Fellowship of the Ring and was a companion of the Ringbearer for a great part of his journey, and also fought at the Battle of Hornburg, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, and the Battle of the Morannon.

Fourth Age

At the start of the Fourth Age, Gimli led a group of colonists from the Lonely Mountain to the Glittering Caves, beneath Hornburg in Rohan, where he established another Dwarf kingdom and ruled there for more than a century. After the death of Aragorn in the year 120 of the Fourth Age, he sailed to the Undying Lands with Legolas.

It is said that the Dwarf population began to dwindle because most male Dwarves did not desire wives, or could not find one that they desired. It does not help that Dwarf women are less than a third of the population.[23] Yet much is still left a mystery in Dwarven history; the Dwarves' true fate is left unknown.

Adaptations

Bakshi Gimli

Gimli in Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings (1978) voiced by David Buck.

Dwarves

Dwarves at the Council of Elrond in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

In Iron Crown Enterprises' Middle-earth Role Playing (1986) Dwarven player-characters receive statistical bonuses to Strength and Constitution, and subtractions from Presence, Agility and Intelligence. Seven "Dwarven Kindreds", named after each of the founding fathers: Durin, Bávor, Dwálin, Thrár, Druin, Thelór and Bárin are given in The Lords of Middle Earth—Volume III (1989).

In Peter Jackson's live action adaptation of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Gimli's character is occasionally used as comic relief and several of his appearances are intended to emphasize the difference between the Dwarves and Elves.

Other dwarves appear in passing in two scenes of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie: the "prologue" introduces the seven dwarf-lords that received the Rings of Power, and four more are present at the Council of Elrond (in contrast to the book, where only Gimli and his father Glóin are described). Peter Jackson's Dwarves are depicted as wearing scale armour.

In Decipher Inc.'s The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game (2001), based on the Jackson films, Dwarven player-characters get bonuses to Vitality and Strength attributes and must be given craft skills. In the Dwarves of Middle-earth (2003) supplement, the seven Dwarf Lords and their houses are named as Durin, Sindri, Linnar, Var, Uri, Thulin and Vigdis.

In the real-time strategy game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, and its expansion, both based on the Jackson films, Dwarves use throwing axes, war hammers, and circular and Roman-esque shields.

See also

References

  1. Template:ME-ref/BOLT
  2. Template:ME-ref/BOLT2
  3. Shippey, Thomas. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. HarperCollins, 2000
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Jane Chance, Tolkien and the Invention of Myth: A Reader (2004). University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813123011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Rateliff, John. The History of the Hobbit. p.79-80
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Owen Dudley Edwards, British Children's Fiction in the Second World War(2008) Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0748616519
  7. "10. There was Motsognir the mightiest made / Of all the dwarfs, and Durin next; / Many a likeness of men they made, / The dwarfs in the earth, as Durin said. /11. Nyi and Nithi, Northri and Suthri, / Austri and Vestri, Althjof, Dvalin, / Nar and Nain, Niping, Dain, / Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Nori, / An and Onar, Ai, Mjothvitnir, / 12. Vigg and Gandalf, Vindalf, Thrain, / Thekk and Thorin, Thror, Vit and Lit, / Nyr and Nyrath, / Regin and Rathvith—now have I told the list aright. / 13. Fili, Kili, Fundin, Náli, / Heptifili, Hannar, Sviur, / Frar, Hornbori, Fræg and Lóni, / Aurvang, Jari, Eikinskjaldi. / 14. The race of the dwarfs in Dvalin's throng / Down to Lofar the list must I tell; / The rocks they left, and through the wet lands / They sought a home in the fields of sand. / 15. There were Draupnir and Dolgthrasir, / Hor, Haugspori, Hlevang, Gloin, / Dori, Ori, Duf, Andvari, /Skirfir, Virfir, Skafith, Ai. / 16. Alf and Yngvi, Eikinskjaldi; / Fjalar and Frosti, Fith and Ginnar; / So for all time shall the tale be known, / The list of all the forebears of Lofar. (Poetic Edda, translated by Henry Adams Bellows. Public domain)
  8. "Tolkien's Middle-earth: Lesson Plans, Unit Two". Houghton Mifflin. http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/features/lordoftheringstrilogy/lessons/two/handouts.jsp. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  9. Shippey, Thomas. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. HarperCollins, 2000, pp.17
  10. Douglas Anderson, History of the Hobbit, Harper Collins 2006 p. 80
  11. Template:ME-ref/LETTERS
  12. Template:ME-ref/BOLT2
  13. Gerrolt, Dennis Now Read On... interviewBBC,1971 [1]
  14. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, 138
  15. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=dwarf
  16. (Letters, 17)
  17. A Guide to Tolkien, David Day, Chancellor Press, 2002
  18. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "Of the Naugrim and the Edain", ISBN 0-395-71041-3 
  19. Template:ME-ref/TH
  20. The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth, Ruth S. Noel, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980
  21. Template:ME-ref/UT
  22. Template:ME-ref/UT
  23. Return of the King, Appendix

External links

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